Fond du Lac County History
Source: 1874 Illustrated Atlas Map
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History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
Fond du Lac County is situated in the eastern part of the state, its eastern border being twenty-three miles west of Lake Michigan. Its central line of latitude is 43æ 45' north. It contains twenty-one organized towns, the two Cities of Fond du Lac and Ripon, and sixteen flourishing villages. Fond du Lac is the county seat, and one of the chief cities of the state. The county embraces a territorial area of about seven hundred and twenty square miles. Its population in 1870, by the U. S. Census, was 46,270. It is one of the most beautiful and fertile tracts of land to be found in the West. Its eastern part is rolling land, originally heavily timbered; the central and western portions undulating and rolling prairie, and openings; the face of which is most beautifully picturesque. It is well watered, abounding in numerous streams and springs, and in many localities flowing fountains. Lake Horicon indents its southern border, and Lake Winnebago its northern. The latter is a magnificent sheet of water, 35 miles in length, connected with the Mississippi and Great Lakes by navigable rivers, affording this county the best of water communication.
The combination of advantages possessed by this locality is unsurpassed. The richest soil; the purest water in abundance; a healthy, invigorating climate, in which malarial diseases are unknown; cheap fuel and abundant building material, consisting of brick clay and the best of stone, and lumber; water and railroad communication in every direction; proximity to business thoroughfares and cities, with good markets, and excellent social and educational facilities.
The county presents one continuous expanse of well cultivated farms, with commodious and tasty farm-houses, many of them very elegant buildings; spacious barns and good fences, which give every evidence of the wealth, thrift, and prosperity of the inhabitants. It forms a beautiful scene, with its handsome buildings, and their rural surroundings of grove, and plain, and cultivated slopes, and winding streams, blending into one picture, and stretching away as far as the eye can reach.
SOIL, GEOLOGICAL FORMATION
The soil includes in its varieties the clay loam of the rolling timbered lands; the rich black sandy loam and vegetable mould of the prairies and openings; and the muck and shell marl of the marsh lands. The latter form the richest and most enduring meadow lands, and furnish an inexhaustible supply of the most valuable fertilizing material for the enrichment of the higher lands in these great deposits of shell marl and vegetable muck.
The rocky substratum of the county is generally of limestone formation, at a depth from the surface varying from 5 to 100 feet. In a few localities the sandstone is found. The subsoil is generally what is called a limestone subsoil, which is frequently mixed with disintegrated particles of the lime rock. The drift rock has also furnished the soil with a great variety of the mineral elements so conducive to vegetable growth. A ledge of limestone traverses the whole width of the county from north to south, with an elevation varying from 5 to 150 feet. The best of building stone and material for lime is easily quarried from this ledge.
THE PRINCIPAL STREAMS
consist of the two branches of the Rock River; the Fond du Lac River; Crystal Creek, with its water-power at Ripon and Ceresco; Grand River, and its water-power at Fairwater; the two branches of the Milwaukee River; the Sheboygan River and water-power; and the southern branch of the Manitowoc River.
The schools of this county rank with the first in the state. Every neighborhood in the county has its district school, and each city its primary, intermediate and high schools -- the last furnishing an academic course of study. There are also ten select and denominational schools; among which are the Ripon College; the Catholic Convent and College at Mount Calvary; the Merrill Institute at Fond du Lac; and the two Commerical Colleges. There are 187 district school houses, including the 17 in the City of Fond du Lac, in which are employed 231 teachers.
There was expended in support of the public schools of the county in 1873, the sum of $179,570.00, which includes expenditures in building and repairs. The public schools are liberally supported, and are a credit to the county, affording to all the most ample educational facilities.
These include organizations of the Patrons of Husbandry, County Agricultural Society, Masonic and Odd Fellow Associations, Temperance Organizations, German Associations, and the various religious organizations, whose fine church edifices in the several cities and villages give evidence of their seal in the cause of religion.
The first paper published in the county was the Fond du Lac Journal, the publication of which commenced in October, 1846. The second was the Fond du Lac Whig, first issued in the December following. The press of the county now consists of the Journal, the Daily and Weekly Commonwealth, the Reporter, the Nordwestlicher Courier, and Tribune, all of the City of Fond du Lac; the Ripon Free Press and Ripon Commonwealth, of Ripon; the Waupun Leader and Waupun Times, of Waupun; and Brandon Times, of Brandon.
These papers are ably conducted, and most useful mediums of local and general intelligence, zealously advocating the interest of their respective localities, and those of the county at large. The people of Fond du Lac are generally a reading people, and seem to have a high appreciation of the great usefulness of the local press, which brings to their homes intelligence of the events which most directly affect their local interests.
Four different lines of railroad traverse the county. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad corsses the county from Fond du Lac in a southeasterly direction to Milwaukee; and the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, from the south line of the county across the western portion to Ripon.
In the month of February, 1836, Edward and Colwert Pier from Green Bay, came to Fond du Lac, for the purpose of making a permanent settlement on the banks of the stream, at the head of the lake. The country was then an unbroken wilderness, inhabited exclusively by Indians and wild animals, with occasionally a transient half-breed Indian trader. There were no roads, and the only means of communication was by Indian trail on the land, and canoes or French batteaux by water. The name of Fond du Lac was given to the locality at a very early date, by the Indian traders, who established a trading post at the forks of the river in 1787.
In 1835 the Fond du Lac company, composed of James D. Doty, Geo. McWilliams and others, purchased a tract of several thousand acres of land, and laid out a square mile of the same into village lots, on which they erected a blockhouse in the Spring of 1836. In the June following Mr. Colwert Pier and his wife moved into this block-house, and were at the time the only white inhabitants in the county.
On the 21st of June, Calvin Pier and Edward Pier, father and brother of Colwert, on a visit to the latter, arrived in a dark rainy night, and were compelled to swim the creek in order to reach the house. Here they received a glad welcome. In the December following Edward again visited his brother; when near the mouth of the river on the ice his horse broke through, the animal perished, and Mr. Pier reached his brother's house with his hands frozen. In the following March he again came to Fond du Lac, accompanied by his wife and two children, the youngest four weeks old, and was the second settler. These two families at this date composed the whole population. In June of that year, Normal Pier and Edward Kendall, from Vermont, young men without families, arrived and became members of the new community. At that time provisions and all the necessaries of civilized life had to be brought from Green Bay over an Indian trail, every thing, too, was dear at that place; pork $30 per barrel, and flour $8 to $12.
Their attempts to cultivate a little land was attended by the greatest discouragements, on account of the depredations of the Indians, who not only stole their crops, but their pigs and one of their horses, and their only milch cow which they killed. This was a most severe loss to these brave struggling pioneers, and almost rendered them hopeless, as it was one of their chief means of sustenance.
In 1837 Miss Harrier Pier and Calvin Pier, and his wife and son, joined the new settlers. A painful event soon followed, which was the death of Mrs. Fanny, wife of Colwert Pier, who died after a short illness; she was the pioneer woman of the county. This sad event plunged the little settlement in the deepest grief.
In December, 1839, Oliver Pier nearly severed his foot by a blow from an ax; it seemed impossible to stop the flow of blood and no surgeon was to be had; he was rapidly sinking from exhaustion, when Edward resorted to an expedient that proved successful, and his life was saved; but for twenty days and nights his parents never undressed them selves for rest; and it was not fill February that he was able to leave his room, and then on crutches. It is such trying incidents, and privations and hardships as these, that land in the closest bonds of sympathy and affection these little bands of frontier settlers, who cherished a kind regard for each other, that is almost unknown in older communities. The hearty hospitality of the pioneer, the dangers and sense of responsibility that is constantly present, the necessity for the practice of self-reliance, patient forbearance, and fortitude, and daring adventure, and skillfully directed enterprise, have an ennobling effect on the character, and serve to give that chivalric manner, and to establish that generosity and warm heartedness which ever characterizes the intercourse of the early settlers.
The next settler was Mr. John Bannister and his family. He formerly lived in Green Bay, to which place he moved as early as 1834. At that time the only white settler between Green Bay and Chicago was Solomon Juneau, at Milwaukee. Mr. Bannister surveyed the County of Fond du Lac, helped to raise the first three frame buildings in Milwaukee, built the first frame building in the County of Fond du Lac, held the first judicial office, and performed the first marriage ceremony. His son, John A. Bannister, was born June 20, 1839, that being the first birth in the county.
The first road opened through the county was in 1836, from Green Bay to Fort Crawford, known as the Military Road. The streams were simply bridged with poles, and were almost impassable. In the timber the road was but little more than a blazed line, while on the prairies and openings, hardly an indication of a road was to be seen. In 1888 a road was opened to Sheboygan, and one opened and bridged to Fox Lake.
The first seven dwelling houses erected in the county were in the following order, viz.: The Fond du Lac House; that of Edward Pier, on his farm; Rev. G. White's, Calument; Gov. Doty's farm house, Town of Emmpire; Calvin Pier's; Dr. Darling's, on the spot afterwards occupied by Darling's Block, on Main Street; and Mr. De Ne Vue's, Town of Empire.
In 1888, Dr. Mason C. Darling moved his family to Fond du Lac, and soon opened a house for the accomodation of travelers, on the site afterwards occupied by Darling's Block. He started a mill, and commenced sawing lumber. In 1839 a post-office was established, with John Bannister postmaster. The first mail brought into the county was on February 5, 1838, by a half-breed traveling on foot. Colwert Pier was the first postmaster. He was succeeded by John Bannister. The revenue of the office at that time was three dollars for the year. The next year Dr. Darling was appointed, and the revenue of the office increased to twenty dollars.
The first political meeting held in the county was at the Fond du Lac House, September 11, 1838, to consider measures for the organization of the county.
On the 26th of September, 1838, Mr. Alonzo Raymond was married to Miss Harriet Pier. This was the first marriage in the county; and the first meeting for religious worship was held at the house of Dr. Darling, November 17, 1839. The sermon was preached by the Rev. J. Halstead, of the M. E. Church.
The first county election was held August 6, 1839, and in October of the same year the County Commissioners elect, John Bannister, Edward Pier and Reuben Simmons, and Treasurer A. Raymond, organized their board, and elected Reuben Simmons, chairman, and appointed Mason C. Darling, clerk.
We have now given the leading incidents of the early settlement of the county - from the time when Mr. Colwert Pier and his wife first settled there, up to the period of its organization into a political community in 1839, three years after the advent of the first settler. In 1840 the number of inhabitants were 136. In 1846 the population reached 3,544; in 1850, 15,000; in 1870, 46,270. This rapid growth shows how inviting a field for immigration this favored land presented, which, in a little over a fourth of a century, has been thus wonderfully transformed from an unbroken wilderness, inhabited by savages and wild animals, into a paradise of civilized life.
The sagacious and experienced western man, on first seeing Fond du Lac, is most forcibly impressed with its great natural advantages, and with the fact that the western city builders are evidently at work here, with their characteristic energy and enterprise, stimulated by the great resources of trade and manufacture, which are so apparent to those who have witnessed the growth of the commercial centers of the west. Here are the certain indications of the possession of the inexhaustible elements of a great commercial and manufacturing mart; which must insure a rapid and continuous expansion in business, wealth and growth.
The splendid business blocks that give the streets such a metropolitan appearance, the new ones in the course of construction, and the new enterprises constantly springing up, are conclusive evidence of the confidence and sagacity of those who have selected this site and laid here the foundation of a western metropolis, which in the short space of twenty-five years has changed from a frontier village into one of the noted and most prosperous cities of the northwest.
The business activity on its crowded streets -- the constant hum of the steam machinery of its forty manufactories -- the long lines of freight and passenger trains, on its three lines of railroad, coming and going, and bearing abroad the various articles of its manufacture -- the wide awake spirit enterprise seen on every hand, and so apparent in the new improvements and the various branches of manufacturing starting into existence, give the plainest evidence of the commercial and manufacturing prosperity of this thriving and rapidly growing city.
SITUATION -- RAILROAD AND WATER COMMUNICATIONS.
The City of Fond du Lac is situated at the head of Lake Winnebago and on the Fond du Lac River, which furnishes a good harbor for steamboats and sail craft, and storage room for the large supply of timber and logs demanded by its numerous mills. It is forty-two miles west of Sheboygan, and in latitude 43 deg. 44 min. north. It has railroad connections with the ports of Lake Michigan by three different lines of railroad, viz.: directly east to Sheboygan, by the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railroad, southeast to Milwaukee via the Northwestern Union Railroad, and with Chicago to the south, and Green Bay and the Michigan peninsula to the north by the C. & N. W. Railroad. It has also direct connections with the several eastern and western routes, and the roads of Central Wisconsin and Minnesota. All the through travel from the north via Fond du Lac to Milwaukee and Chicago, is transferred at this point to the Northwestern Union Railroad. The intersection of roads, and transfer of passengers and freights at this place, has made it an important railroad center, with outlets radiating in all directions. In addition to her ample railroad facilities, Fond du Lac has
with the great Lakes to the east -- with the Mississippi to the west -- and with the great timber region of Northern Wisconsin.
which stretches from here away to the north, is a splendid expanse of water, thirty-five miles long and eight to twelve wide, and forms, with the Upper and Lower Fox, a connecting link between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes -- a link in that great chain of lakes and rivers which form the grand inland water communication of the continent. The Wolf River and its tributaries, flowing from the vast pine and hard-wood forests of Northern Wisconsin into Lake Winnebago, gives this city water communication with that great region, by which the products of the forests are floated to the very doors of its manufactories. It is from the immense resources of this great timbered country of the north, that this city chiefly obtains the raw material for the manufacture of the immense quantities of lumber, sash, doors, and various hard-wood manufactures, which furnish employment here to three or four thousand hands, and millions of dollars worth of which are annually shipped to the various points in the great prairie west, stretching from here away to the plains of Kansas and Nebraska. This business has become so vast that long railroad trains of cars exlusively loaded with lumber, sash, doors, wagons, etc., are daily departing. The La Belle wagon works, which manufactures some three thousand wagons annually, are constantly shipping by the car load, and the same may be said of the great sash and door factories, one of which gives employment to three hundred and fifty hands, and the value of whose products amounts annually to $600,000.
A few miles to the east is the heavy timbered land lying between Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan, and extending northward. This also furnishes an immense supply of timber of the various hard-wood manufactories, and which is of easy access.
Adjoining the city to the south and west, is one of the richest agricultural districts to be found in the West, and which is a portion of the very garden of Central Wisconsin, and a part of that immense agricultural tract of prairie and openings which stretch away to the west and southwest, for hundreds of miles, constituting the largest continuous body of fertile land to be found in the habitable globe. This vast territory with its scarcity of timber is the great unlimited market ground for the manufactories of Fond du Lac -- a market the beginnings of which reach the very confines of the city. These, then, are the surroundings of this city -- to the north the great pine forests and iron mines of Northern Wisconsin -- to the northeast the heavy hard-wood timbered regions, and to the west and the south the great agricultural empire of prairie and openings. It is this
HIGHLY FAVORED LOCATION
of Fond du Lac, situated on the dividing line, as it were, between the two great districts of such different physical characteristics, which forms the basis of that manufacturing and commercial prosperity that has made the name of this city famous in the West, and which will most assuredly sustain it in enduring prominence.
There are but few who realize the magnitude of the great manufacturing resources possessed by this city in its immense supply of manufacturing timber -- pine and hard-wood, and the iron accessible by short lines of transportation -- the great staples for the manufacture of just such articles as are in the greatest and most increasing demand in the prairie country to the west and south; with intersecting lines of trade centering here into a natural distributing point -- railroad and water communication in all directions, and a healthfulnes of climate stimulating industry and enterprise -- surrounded by as beautiful a tract of country as the eye of man ever beheld, unsurpassed in fertility, populous and in a high state of cultivation, with the best of social and educational advantages, and the fullest opportunities for material advancement and the enjoyment of the comforts of life.
Among the other resources worthy of mention are the facilities and material for the manufacture of paper, the bark for tanning, and the splendid building stone which comes from the quarries near the city limits in most perfect forms, without a flaw, and of any desired length or breadth. This forms an important article of shipment to other points for window and door sills, and caps and facing finish. It furnishes also a most beautiful flagging stone of uniform thickness. Material for brick and lime is abundant, thus furnishing, with the lumber, every variety of building material.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CITY.
It is rectangular in form and comprises within its limits a territorial area of about seven square miles; four of which are compactly built up; the balance suburban. The population in 1870, per the United States Census, was 12,765; in 1872 it was 14,003; and now it numbers about 16,000. The streets are of good width, and the principal ones are paved or graveled with a material that compacts into a hard smooth surface. The business streets present a fine appearance with their magnificent blocks of brick buildings, with the beautiful finish of the modern style of architecture; and which give the city a metropolitan appearance unequaled by the old eastern cities of twice the size. The principal portions of Main and Forest Streets present, in their palace stores of the richest finish and immense plate glass windows, a spectacle that any city would be proud of. Those streets are paved with the Nicolson. The sidewalks are sixteen feet wide, and paved with the beautiful smooth flagging stone so abundant in the vicinity. Among the public buildings are Amory's magnificant hall, the splendid new post-office building, the Patty House, one of the finest hotel buildings in the state, and the beautiful high school building. There are some eighteen fine church edifices, which greatly beautify the appearance of the city; nearly all of them are elegant, costly structures, built of stone or brick, and of imposing architectural design. On many of the residence streets the original forest trees have been preserved, which add much to their attractiveness. The city is lighted with gas, and has an abundant supply of the very purest water from its numerous flowing fountains which are readily obtained in every locality. The first artesian fountains were struck by boring to a depth of 80 or 90 feet to the substrata of sand and gravel underlying the city at that depth. The second one that was obtained discharged a volume of water equal to sixty gallons per minute. Fountains of much greater capacity are now made by drilling through the rock to a greater depth. Hunter's magnetic saline fountain, widely celebrated for the curative properties of its water, was struck at a depth of one hundred and eighty-seven feet. Wild's magnetic fountain throws a stream three inches in diameter, with sufficient force to elevate it ten feet above the surface of the ground. The volume of water flowing from it is immense, two or three such fountains would fully supply the city. These artesian fountains are a most attractive and desirable feature of the city, and contribute largely to that healthfulness for which it is so distinguished. Pure air and an abundant supply of the very best of water are blessings which Fond du Lac possesses in the highest degree.
The public schools are conducted on the graded system, and unsurpassed in excellence, providing the most ample educational facilities. There are seventeen school buildings, with fifty teachers. $126,837 was expended for school purposes during the year. In addition to these are a number of select schools, a female seminary, and two commercial colleges.
These are numerous, embracing Masonic, Odd Fellows, Catholic, Temperance and Benevolent associations, Good Templars, Literary, Library and Musical associations, Mechanical, and the various German organizations.
of Fond du Lac consists of five publications - The Journal, The Daily and Weekly Commonwealth, The Saturday Reporter, The Tribune, and The Nordwestlicher Courier and Tribune. These papers take high rank among the metropolitan press of the state, and are able advocates of the local interests of the city.
THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
is an efficient organization, with three steamers, hand engines, hose, and hook and ladder companies.
STATISTICS OF MANUFACTURES IN 1873.
Northwestern Car works, 200 hands. Manufacture flat and box cars and coaches, no estimate of the value of works.
Fond du Lac Threshing Machine works, just constructed, capacity for making 1,000 machines per year.
Charcoal Iron works and Blast Furnace, C. J. L. Meyer, just constructed, will give employment to 100 men -- ready for operation October 15.
Fond du Lac Paper Mill, George Hunter, 40 hands.
Fountain City Paper Mill Co., 30 hands. Aggregate value of paper manufactured $140,000.
La Belle Wagon works, Moore & Ruggles, 120 hands. Manufactures 3,000 wagons per year, $250,000.
Empire Woolen mills, 10 hands. Manufactured goods in 1873 to value of $20,000.
Looking-glass Frame factory, Stevely & Higbee, 50 hands. Value of manufactures in 1873, $75,000.
Drug mill, J. C. & C. E. Huber, 7 hands. Value of manufactures in 1873, $25,000.
Steam Bakery and Confectionery, B. Wild & Co., 23 hands. Value of manufactures, in 1873, $125,000.
Agricultural Implements and Carriage Wheel manufactory, Sabin, Bushnell & Hastings, 30 hands. Value of manufactures per year, $50,000.
Iron Shutter factory, J. R. Smith & Son, 25 hands, $25,000.
FOND DU LAC TANNERY
Wm. Reuping & Sons, 20 hands. Value of leather manufactured in 1873, $70,000.
FOUNDRIES AND MACHINE SHOPS.
C. J. L. Meyer, 60 hands.
Novelty Iron works, Trowbridge & Co., 25 hands.
Union Iron works, W. H. Hiner & Co., 100 hands.
Steam Boiler works, J. C. Pierron, 17 hands.
These manufacture steam engines, circulars, mill boilers, etc., to the value in the aggregate per annum of $350,000.
FOND DU LAC OIL WORKS.
Hamilton & Foster, 9 hands. Linseed, rape oil and cake. Manufactured in 1873 to the value of $60,000.
Galloway Flouring mills, T. S. Henry & Co., 10 hands.
City Stone Flouring mills, Langlois, Allen & Co., 7 hands.
West Branch Flouring mill, J. C. Bishop, 6 hands.
The above mills manufactured during the year, 52,000 barrels of flour, 2,500 tons of bran, shorts, etc., and 4,500 tons of mill freed, aggregating the value of $450,750.
SASH, DOOR AND BLIND FACTORIES.
C. J. L. Meyer, 350 hands.
U. D. Mihills & Co., 145 hands.
McDonald & Stewart, 40 hands.
Lewis & Steenburg, 50 hands.
The manufactures of these during the year aggregated to the value of $1,050,000.
C. J. L. Meyer's mill, 140 hands.
C. & N. W. R. R. mill, 30 hands.
U. D. Mihills' two mills, 90 hands.
Merriman & Co.'s mill, 50 hands.
Moore, Galloway & Baker's mill, 60 hands.
G. W. Sexmith's mill, 53 hands.
Alex. McDonald's mill, 40 hands.
J. Q. Griffith & Son's mill, 40 hands.
Hamilton & Finley's mill, 45 hands.
These mills manufactured during the year, 67,000,000 feet of lumber valued at $1,000,000 and lath and pickets to the value of $150,000.
C. J. L. Meyer's mill, 50 hands.
U. D. Mihills' mill, 35 hands.
Merriman & Co.'s mill, 20 hands.
Moore, Galloway & Baker's mill, 18 hands.
G. W. Sexmith's mill, 17 hands.
Alex. McDonald's mill, 13 hands.
J. Q. Griffith & Son's mill, 20 hands.
Hamilton & Finley's mill, 20 hands.
These mills made 88,000,000 shingles during the year, valued at $230,000.
The establishments enumerated above are all run by steam machinery. Prominent among the branches run by hand are the various
Novelty Carriage works, A. G. Purdy, 20 hands, $30,000.
E. Squires' Carriage works, 18 hands, $35,000.
O. Vanorman, 11 hands, $10,000.
B. F. & H. L. Sweet, 20 hands, $20,000.
Clement Bros., 9 hands, $8,000.
McLean & Haas, 9 hands, $9,000.
RECAPITULATION OF THE VALUE OF MANUFACTURES IN 1873.
Wagons and carriages..................................................$362,000.00
Steam engines, mill machinery and other iron works....350,000.00
Linseed and rape oil..........................................................60,000.00
Flour, mill feed, etc..........................................................450,750.00
Looking-glass frames and backing...................................75,000.00
Drug mill products..............................................................22,000.00
Steam bakery and confectionery....................................125,000.00
Sash, door and blind....................................................1,050,000.00
The products of the various mechanical shops run by hand and the brewers, cigar makers, etc., would swell the amount to about $5,000,000.
The numbers of hands employed, as enumerated above, in the mills and factories, is 2,002. Those employed in the other productive industries would increase the number to about 3,000.
BUSINESS HOUSES -- SALES -- MERCHANDISE.
The city having the trade of nearly the whole of Fond du Lac County, a large part of Calument County, and portions of Dodge, Sheboygan and Winnebago, in addition to the large local traffic of the resident population, does a very extensive business in the sales of merchandise. There are over 300 stores, including the smaller concerns. Among the larger first-class establishments dealing exclusively in one class of goods, may be enumerated six splendid dry goods stores, four large hardware, iron and mill furnishing houses, twenty first-class groceries, eight drug stores, nine boot and shoe stores, and eight clothing stores. These larger class of houses do an annual business amounting to from thirty thousand to one hundred thousand dollars each; a few of them reaching from one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand dollars each. The following aggregate estimate of sales is carefully based on the actual sales of a large number of the first-class stores.
Eight dry goods stores, aggregate sales, $600,000.
Four hardware stores, $325,000.
Other hardware stores, etc., $100,000.
Eight drug stores, $200,000.
Boots and shoes, $350,000.
Clothing, hats, caps, etc., $300,000.
Millinery, etc., $90,000.
Books, stationery and ornamental goods, $80,000.00
Watches, jewelry, plated and silver ware, $90,000.
Pianos, musical instruments and musical merchandise, $80.000.
Crockery and glass ware, $50,000.
Groceries, dried and canned fruits, etc., $800,000.
Meat, fresh and salted, $400,000.
Other provisions, $80,000.
Flour, mill feed, etc., for the mill products retailed and shipped, $408,000.
Other miscellaneous articles which are largely sold in every community and which we have no means of estimating, but the sales of which amount to not less than $500,000, making a total of $4,449,750.
The average deposit in the banks amounts to $900,000.
The real estate sales and the amount expended in constructing buildings and in making other improvements, added to the amount of the sales of goods and the value of the manufactures would swell the money transactions of the city to between ten and eleven millions of dollars.
CITY OF RIPON.
The City of Ripon is situated in the northwest part of Fond du Lac County, at the junction of the Milwaukee and St. Paul, the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac, and the Oshkosh and Mississippi Railroads.
The city is rectangular in shape, being one and a-half miles long from east to west, and one mile wide from north to south.
Silver Creek passes westward through its center, furnishing a fine water-power. A deep bed of limestone underlies the whole city, affording a convenient and inexhaustible supply of good building material.
In 1870 the population numbered 2,927, and included among its public buildings, Wood's Hotel, one of the finest hotel structures in the state; the three large buildings of Ripon College, the High School and many fine church edifices.
The city is situated among the hills and valleys of one of nature's parks.
The citizens have shown fine taste in landscape gardening, and good sense in the preservation of the splendid forest-trees that add so much to the beauty of the city. Ripon, without doubt, is the most picturesquely beautiful of any of Wisconsin's cities, excepting, perhaps, Madison, which has the advantage in the numerous lakes adjoining it. Ripon, however, is only six miles distant from Green Lake -- a large lake noted for its many atractions, and justly popular as a summer resort.
The country surrounding Ripon on all sides is admitted, by all who have seen it, to be unrivaled in its fine prospects, its rolling and fertile prairie, dotted with neat farm houses, and the rich foliage of its groves of second-growth timber skirting the hill-sides in the distance, presenting a scene more resembling the fine tints and groupings of splendid picture, than the positive, substantial reality that it is.
The city was founded and fostered by Captain D. P. Mapes, now an honored resident of the neighboring Village of Winneconne. In the year 1849, in the month of February, the captain and his sons struck the first blow in the construction of Ripon. Five years before, or in May, 1844, a colony of Fourierites, called the Wisconsin Phalanx, had made a settlement about a mile west of the site selected by the captain. They flourished for a few years, having constructed a flouring and saw mill, and made other substantial improvements. They named the place Ceresco. About 1850 this society disbanded, and the village became a part of the First Ward of Ripon. The removal of the Ceresco Post-office to Ripon, and consequent change of its name, was an event of interest. The building of the college was another point gained, and the establishment of which was due to the exertions of Captain Mapes and his fellow townsmen, Major A. E. Bovay, William Starr, G. N. Lyman, J. Bowen, E. P. Brockway and others. The first newspaper was called the Herald, and was published by A. P. Mapes, in 1853. The city now boasts two papers, -- The Commonwealth, and Free Press.
The history of Ripon is but the history of many a western city; but a few years ago, a little hamlet of hardy pioneers, next a village charter; stores and hotels springing up on every hand; at last a city charter; solid blocks of brick and stone buildings, fine churches, palatial residences, gas-lighted streets, omnibuses, and railway trains.
For details we would refer the reader to Captain Mapes' very readable book on this subject.
The Town of Rosendale is situated on the north side of Fond du Lac County, and bounded on the west by the Town of Ripon. The town was organized in the Winter of 1844-45, and included within its boundaries an area of nine miles square, composed of all of T. 16, R. 15, the N. 1/2 of T. 15, R. 15, the W. 1/2 of T. 16 R. 16 and the N. W. 1/4 of T. 14 R. 16. The size of the town was reduced the following year to one regular township, being T. 16, R. 15.
The surface of the town is just undulating enough to afford good drainage, and to give the country a beautiful appearance, exhibiting its groves and light openings, with stretches of prairie and meadow land interspersed.
The soil is a black loam on the prairie, and a mixture of clay and loam on the timbered portions. The timber is principally what is known as oak openings. Water is easily found and of good quality. The health of the inhabitants is generally good, malarial diseases being almost unknown.
The Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railroad crosses the town from east to west, with stations at the Village of Rosendale, and West Rosendale P.O. The elevation at Rosendale Station is 140 feet above the water-level at Fond du Lac City.
The pioneer settler of this town was Mr. Samuel Sanborn who built a log house on section 35, in the Spring of 1844. During the Summer and Fall of the same year other settlers came into the town, and secured homes; among whom we might mention the names of Joseph Humphry, G. D. Curtis, Almon Kenyon, H. W. Wolcott, Henry Ward, ----- Dodd, Jerome Yates, C. M. Balcom, and Almon Burt.
Mr. Sanborn was the first chairman, he being elected by one majority over Mr. G. D. Curtis.
The first school was taught by Dwight Hall, in a log school house in 1846. The first white child born in the town was a son of Alvan Harroun. The first death was that of Mrs. Patrick, a daughter of Mr. Dodd.
In 1870, twenty-six years after the first settlement of the town, it contained a population of 1,298.
This town is situated on the eastern side of the county, being bounded north by Calumet, east by Sheboygan County, south by Forest, and west by Taycheedah. The territory that comprises the town formerly composed parts of other towns in the county. But in the year of ------, efforts were put forth, and an organization of the Town of Marshfield was effected. We will depart somewhat from the usual routine pursued in inserting our town histories, and without giving the details of settlement, soil, timber, etc., we will allow what space we have in giving a short history of an institution located in this town, that, perhaps, will be of greater interest to the majority of the inhabitants than any thing else that might be written. The institution referred to is located at Mr. Calvary, twelve miles east from Fond du Lac, and two miles south of the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railroad, and comprises the church, convent, and college of the Capuchin Order of St. Francis. On the 15th of October, 1856, the place was selected by two secular priests, P. Francis Haas, and P. Bonaventura, with the advice of Rt. Rev. John Martin Henry, Bishop of Milwaukee, for the foundation of the order. In March, 1858, possession was taken of the first eastern wing of the building, the dimensions of which being 27 feet by 111 feet. Three years subsequent to this time, the two priests, assisted by three lay brothers and others, under the direction of P. Francis, as Guardian, commenced to enlarge the building on the south side, and to lay the foundation of the church with the choir, on the north side, which was completed the following year, 1862. Meanwhile, others having joined the order, it became desirable to build a college, which was done in the Summer of 1864; this formed the southern wing; it was opened under the patronage of St. Lawrence of Bourdeau, in November of the same year. The western wing, together with the Chapel of St. Francis on the north were commenced in 1857, and completed in the Fall of 1868. It was hardly occupied when the whole edifice was destroyed by fire on the 26th of December, the same year, except the aisle of the church and St. Francis Chapel. The church and convent were again rebuilt, and completed in 1870. The following year it was enlarged by St. Joseph's Family Hall and Monument, which was opened on the 4th of July, 1872. It was again enlarged in 1873, by the addition of a new study hall and dormitory for the accomodation of students. At the present time the church is being enlarged and other improvements made.
The people residing in the vicinity of this formidable building, and in fact in the town, are largely Catholics, and have contributed liberally by work and funds to its erection; and it will, undoubtedly, on its full completion be not only an ornament to the Town of Marshfield, but to Fond du Lac County. A view of it may be seen in the Atlas.
Last, but not least, of the towns in Fond du Lac County, is Waupun, situated in the south part of the county. The face of this town is smooth, but not level; gently undulating without hills, and embracing desirable proportions of prairie, openings, hay marsh, and timber lands. Has a deep, warm, and vigorous soil, equal in fertility to any part of the state. Waupun has a supply of timber for building, fuel and fences, which is distributed through the various sections of the town, excepting the prairies. Mr. Seymour Wilcox, preferring the wilds of Waupun to the advantages of Fond du Lac, with the convenience of a settlement already commenced, on the 20th of March, 1839, removed his family into a shanty on the banks of the west branch of the Rock River, where the Village of Waupun now stands, eighteen miles from the settlement at Fond du Lac, and ten miles from a settlement commenced by Mr. Brower at Fox Lake. Mr. Wilcox was accompanied by J. N. Ackerman and Hiram Walker, two young men in his emmployment. Mr. Miner Collins came into this town the same year, but after making a short stay, went on to Lake Emily, twelve miles farther west. In 1841 Mr. C. Carrington, Mr. Town, and several others became inhabitants.
The first birth which occurred in this town was in the family of Mr. Seymour Wilcox, in the month of April, 1841. The first marriage was that of Mr. McElroy, in 1841, to Miss Collins. The first religious meeting was held at the house of Mr. Wilcox. Rev. Mr. Smith, the officiating clergyman. The first post-office was established at Waupun in 1842, Seymour Wilcox, postmaster. The first death was that of a son of Mr. Town. The first school was taught in this town in the Winter of 1844, by Mr. Cleveland. The first stock of goods was opened for sale in Waupun by Thomas Snow, in 1845.
The Town of Waupun was organized in 1845, and Seymour Wilcox was elected to the office of Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. The Village of Waupun is situated near the middle of the southern line of the town, party in the Town of Waupun, but a large share in the Town of Chester, in the County of Dodge. The main street, running east and west through the village, is on the county line. The first frame house erected in this village was in 1846. It is in this village that the State Prison is located, a view of which may be seen in this Atlas.
In the early settlement of the county, the district or territory now known as Taycheedah, attracted the attention of the pioneers, and in 1838, Francis D. McCarty and Reuben Simmons selected a location in the south part of the town, and in the month of December built a shanty, which they occupied for their domicil until the following Spring. Mr. McCarty commenced building where the Village of Taycheedah now stands, where he soon removed his family and remained until 1842. In 1838 O. P. Knapp entered a lot in the timbered lands, in the north part of the town. This was the first settlement in that part of the town.
The pioneer settlers in this town had many serious inconveniences to contend with in establishing their homes in this new country; all the necessaries of life were at enormous prices; Green Bay and Fort Winnebago were their nearest markets; flour could there be obtained for $15 per barrel, and pork at from $30 to $40; it then had to be transported over Indian trails some sixty or seventy miles.
Up to 1847, Taycheedah was a component part of Fond du Lac. At that time it was incorporated as a separate town, embracing besides its present territory, the Towns of Forest, Empire, and a fraction of Friendship. The surface of the town, excepting the ledge, is generally smooth and gently undulating. The soil on the high lands is a reddish loam mixed with clay, with a subsoil of clay and gravel; the prairie lying below the ledge, a black muck, or mould, mixed with loam.
The first election was held in this town in April, 1847. G. S. Ruggles was elected to the office of Chairman of Supervisors, and Chas. Doty, Town Clerk.
Lying in the center of Fond du Lac Co., from north to south, is the Town of Springvale. There is but a small portion of the town that is covered with timber, this lies in the north part, on what is called White Oak Ridge, most of the timber being of that kind, though the various other kinds are found in small quantities. Land was purchased in this town as easly as 1844, by John Allen, on the Prairie in the southern part of the town, but no settlement was made unil 1845, when Wm. Cheeney located with his family on the same prairie. This was the first family in the Town of Springvale. Shortly after Chester Hazen settled in the town on Sec. 34, and in a short time several families settled in the north part. Other settlers coming in, the town was organized in 1848, and the 5th of April of that year, the first town election was held at the house of Abel Williard. Mr. Warren Whiting was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and C. B. Beers, Clerk. This town is well adapted not only for the cultivation of grain, but also for dairying purposes, up to 1854 there had not been as much attention paid to the latter as the former, but in latter years the dairying interest has developed to that extent, that at the present time it is made quite a specialty in the town. Chester Hazen, living on section 34, is the proprietor of the largest cheese factory in the state, if not in the Northwest. Its patrons number about 90, besides manufacturing quite extensively, for himself. The residents of the town are largely composed of people from the Eastern and New England States. Withal the town ranks well with any town in the County.
In the northwest corner of Fond du Lac County lies the Town of Ripon. The face of the country presents a series of undulations, unbroken, except occasionally near Silver Creek there are steep, bold, and even precipitous banks. The town is principally upon Green Lake Prairie. The soil is deep, warm and fertile, and supplied with numerous springs and running streams of pure water. Silver Creek has its rise in the Town of Metomen, some three or four miles from Ripon, from numerous large springs, whose united streams flowing into this town, furnish abundant water power at Ripon and Ceresco. This town was formerly, and for a number of years, called Ceresco, the settlement of which was commenced in the valley below Ripon, at a place calle Ceresco, on May 27, 1844, by about twenty members of the Wisconsin Phalanx, from Southport. Among the number was W. Chase, L. Rounds, J. Beckwith, J. Lambert, N. Hunter, C. Lane, W. Dunham, W. Seaman, and C. Adkins. They entered about 600 acres in the valley, including the water-power. They brought with them teams, tools, and provisions; put up three frame houses and a saw-mill; got a post-office established, with Lester Rounds, Postmaster.
The next Winter the town was incorporated, including Rosendale. The first birth in Ceresco was that of Charles T., son of Wm. Seaman, in June, 1845. The first death was a child named Uriel Farmin. The first school was kept by Mr. Rounds in the Winter of 1844. The first religious meeting was the next Sabbath after the arrival of the company; sermon by Elder G. H. Stebbins, Baptist minister.
On the first Tuesday in April, 1845, a town meeting was held at the house of Lester Rounds. Moses Farmin was elected to the office of Chairman of Supervisors, and Uriel Farmin, Town Clerk.
This township embraces one of the finest agricultural districts in Fond du Lac County. With a surface slightly rolling, diversified by prairie, opening, and marsh, and with a soil rich in agricultural wealth. The ledge, which consists of a range of limestone rock, enters the town on the east, takes a southwesterly course, and passes into the Town of Leroy, in Dodge County. In this ledge are found the most perfect quarry stone, and in almost inexhaustible quantities. Nearly one-fourth of the town is on the ledge, which embraces some of the most productive farms in the town. North, or what is termed under the ledge, the land slopes gradually north and west, as will be seen by the numerous small streams which arise from springs near the ledge, and take a northern and westerly course.
The first settlement attempted in what is now the Town of Oakfield was in the year 1840, by Russel Wilkinson, a former resident of Renssalaer County, N.Y. This first attempt at settlement did not prove successful, owing to the depredations of Indians, who still remained in the neighborhood. They finally burned his house, which contained his provisions and furniture. He concluded to abandon his farm for a time, removing with his family to Fond du Lac, where he remained until 1843, when he, in company with his brother Robert, returned again to his old claim in Oakfield. For a short time they were the only citizens of the town. They were soon followed by Mr. Botsford, Mr. Silvernail, Mr. Tanner, and Mr. Hazen. The next year Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Ripley, Mr. Sykes, and Mr. Westfall, became their neighbors. Thus was the nucleus formed from which has grown the wealthy and populous Town of Oakfield.
There were no roads in those days; Indian trails were the only thoroughfares. Provisions and groceries were obtained from Green Bay, a distance of seventy miles. Mr. John Wilkinson, who came into this town soon after his brothers Russel and Robert, was killed by the fall of a tree about eighteen months after his arrival; he left a widow and four children. He had taken up forty acres of land, but had not paid for it. The neighbors, with that noble benevolence which is a peculiar characteristic of pioneers in the midst of their own poverty and privations, raised the money, paid for the land, and gave it off to the afflicted family.
The first birth was that of Martha, daughter of Robert Wilkinson, in May, 1844. The first school was taught in the Winter of 1845, by Miss Maria Moore, afterwards Mrs. Hubbard. The first religious meeting was held at the house of Mr. Russel Wilkinson in February, 1845, by Rev. Mr. Brondson, of the M. E. Church. The first town election was held at the house of Russel Wilkinson. There were thirty-two votes polled. C. L. Rich was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and L. Hazen, Town Clerk.
The present Town of Oakfield was organized in 1846, by the name of Lime. The Chicago and Northwestern Railway passes through the central part of the town. Oakfield Village, on this railway, furnishes a convenient and ready market for the surplus products of the town.
Thirteen miles from Fond du Lac, in a southeast direction lies the Town of Osceola, so named in memory of the great Chief of the Floridas. This town is made up of a combination of wood-land, oak openings and prairie. The timber portion of the town abounds in beach, basswood, oak, maple, hickory and cherry, which furnish a vast quantity of excellent timber for all practical purposes. The soil is composed of lime marl, very deep, with a subsoil of mixed gravel, sand and clay. The town is generally well watered with springs and small streams. The first settlement in this town was made in 1845, near the present site of the Village of Waucousta, by a Mr. Noble, James Farrer and Peter Radliff. After they had been there about one year the settlement was increased by W. R. Longstreet, William Mitchell, John Beeson and Captain Silas Allen. Business began to thrive, and Mr. Beeson commenced building a saw-mill, which when complete gave a greater interest to business so that he soon went about building a flouring mill. The first birth in this town was in the family of Mr. William Oliver in 1847. The first death was the wife of one of the first settlers, Mrs. Noble, who died in 1849. The first marriage was Mr. Washington Noble to Miss Ellen Ayrhart. The first school taught in Osceola was in the north part of the town in 1849-50. Osceola orginally belonged to the Town of Eden, but in 1851 was set off and organized as a separate town, and in April of that year was held the first town election, when John W. Whiting was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and William Mitchel, Clerk.
This town lies on the west line of Fond du Lac County, and is one of the most beautiful and productive
agricultural districts, which the eye falls upon in traveling through the "West," the surface is smooth,
but gradually rolling, with a deep, rich warm soil. The west branch of Rock River passes through the town and the
east branch rises in it; their waters flow in a southerly direction. The settlement of this town was commenced
by Colonel Mansfield, who in 1844 purchased a lot in it, yet he did not become an actual resident until several
other families had moved in. The same season three young men, Hicks, Dart and Robbins, commenced an improvement
in the town. In June 1845, Daniel Eggleston, R. Jenkinson, and Mr. Carter came into Metomen with their families.
In about six weeks, settlers came in, to a large number, and within a year nearly all the lands in town were entered.
The first birth in Metomen was that of Franklin French, son of S. H. and Phebe French, October 26, 1845. The first
death, Frederick Nay, a son of Colonel Nay, in 1846. The first religious meeting was in the house of Daniel Eggleston
in the Spring of 1846, by Elder Murphy. The first school was taught by Eliza Eggleston, in the summer of 1846.
The flouring mill at Fairwater was built by Messrs Dakin and Lathrop in 1847. April 7, 1846, the first election
was held in this town; A. Osborn was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and Albert C. Robbins, Town Clerk.
As early as 1840, Peter V. Sang purchased a farm on the old military road, about seven miles
from Fond du Lac, built a house and removed his family. About the same time Mr. Parker came and settled in the
town. The settlement however progressed slowly, until 1844, when William Townsend and a number of other settlers
came in and settled near Sang's Tavern. In the year 1847 the town of Lamartine was organized, lying directly west
of Fond du Lac, and bounded north by Eldorado, south by Oakfield, and west by Springvale. At the first town election,
Peter V. Sang was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and D. Brinkerhoof, Clerk. The timber land, while it is but
a small portion, lies principally in the north part; the rest is composed of oak openings, with some small prairies.
The soil consists mostly of whitish clay, mixed with black loam, and the lowlands a deep, rich, alluvial soil,
which produces an abundance of the first quality of grass, to the culture of which, most parts are better adapted
than to raising grain.
This town, lying at the head of Lake Winnebago, is sixty-five miles northwest from Milwaukee, sixty-five miles south from Green Bay, and forty-one west of Sheboygan. In general, this town presents a very level surface, gently inclining towards the lake. Fond du Lac prairie stretches into all parts of the town, or it may more properly be said that the town is wholly upon the prairie. The soil of the town is generally of deep, black, alluvial loam of the richest quality, with a red clay subsoil. Although all the varieties of grain are cultivated successfully in this town, it seems better adapted to the production of grass.
This town being the location of the pioneer settlement of Fond du Lac County, the history of its first settlement, in 1836, legitimately belonged to the general history of the county, of which a brief synopsis will be given.
February 17, 1836, Edward and Colwert Pier, from Green Bay, visited Fond du Lac for the purpose of selecting a location for a residence. There was not a house in the county; they slept on the bank of the river, near where the city now stands. A tract of several thousand acres had been purchased by the Fond du Lac Company, composed of James Duane Doty, afterwards Governor of the territory, Geo. McWilliams, J. P. Arnold, H. S. Beard, and several others, in 1835, and a plot of something more than a square mile was surveyed into village lots. Here they erected a block-house in the Spring of 1836, into which Colwert Pier and his wife moved June 6, the same year. There were no other inhabitants in the county. On the 11th of March, 1837, Mr. Edward Pier arrived at Fond du Lac with his wife and two children. These two families composed the whole population of the county until June 1, when Norman Pier and Albert Kendall were added to the number. March 1, 1838, Mrs. Fanny, wife of Colwert Pier, died, after a short illness. She was the pioneer woman in the county, and also from the county to the spirit world.
On the 3d of March, 1838, Mr. John Bannister brought his family into this neighborhood. He was a native of Massachusetts, and came to Green Bay in 1834. Mr. Bannister held the first judicial office; was the first register, county surveyor, marshal, and performed the first marriage ceremony. His son, John A. Bannister, was born June 20, 1839, being the first birth in the county. The first political meeting ever held in this county was at the Fond du Lac House, September 10, 1838. The first marriage in the county was Mr. Alonzo Raymond to Miss Harriet Pier. The first meeting for divine worship was held at the house of Dr. Darling, November 17, 1839; preaching by the Rev. J. Halstead, of the M. E. Church. In 1842, the population of the county was about 300, a large proportion of which was in Fond du Lac, now an incorporated town. At the town election of this year, Henry Conklin was elected to the office of Chairman, and Mason C. Darling, Town Clerk.
This town is in the eastern part of the county. It contained up to --------, one and one-half townships and was nine miles from north to south, and six from east to west, at which time a half a township or 18 sections were taken off to form the Town of Marshfield. The first settlement was made near the center of the town, in 1845, by J. A. King, P. T. King and James Davis. The same year H. C. Geltner settled in the western part, and the year following, O. C. White, Solomon Benedict and William Chase, removed into the western part, to farms situated on what is called the old road from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac. In 1848 the town was organized and elected H. C. Giltner Chairman of Supervisors, who was succeeded by Joseph Wagner. The religious organizations are Methodist, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans. The principal timber is maple, basswood, ash, oak, hickory and elm. The soil is deep, strong and fertile, producing in abundance all kinds of grain.
Directly north of Fond du Lac, on the western shore of Lake Winnebago, is the Town of Friendship. It originally belonged to Fond du Lac, but was set off and for a while formed a component part of Eldorado; but in 1848 was again set off and organized into a separate town. The principal timber is oak, basswood, maple, hickory and ironwood. The surface is somewhat uneven, though not hilly. The soil is a deep rich loam, very fertile, and producing all kinds of grain and grass in great abundance. The southern portion extends over a small section of Fond du Lac prairie. In the year 1844 Miner Wilson removed his family to a farm on the lake shore in the southeast corner of the town, this being the first family who had made a settlement within the boundaries of the town. In 1845 C. M. Wilson and Luke Forbes removed thither, and the two Wilsons erected a factory for making chairs, and for a time supplied a large section of country, but the larger factories at Fond du Lac soon superseded it. In 1848 the town was organized, and W. H. Bruce was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and E. R. Roberts, Clerk, who held the office until 1852 when he left the town and Hector Monroe was elected in his stead. The first school was taught in the Winter of 1848 and 1849 Elias Werden.
In the midst of a highly fertile and beautifully picturesque section of country, and about six miles southeast from Fond du Lac, lies the Town of Eden. The soil is of a deep, rich loam, with a subsoil of fine limestone gravel, making the richest and most enduring of any kind of soil.
In the month of November, 1846, Mr. Joseph Carr came into this town and commenced building a house, and laid the first foundation for a settlement. In February of the following year, Peter Vandervoort and Samuel Rand came on with their families, and rolled up some log shanties, and went to work to prepare to raise something to eat. Others soon followed, and the settlement had become so large that in April, 1848, a meeting was called to organize and christen the town. Of course it was a matter of consideration what the town should be called. Adam Holiday, an eccentric character, arose to propose a name. After commenting on the many beauties of the place, the richness of the soil, its great fertility, etc., he remarked that Adam dwelt in the garden of Eden, and that there were Holydays there. The idea was received, and it was unanimously agreed that the town should be called Eden.
The first religious meeting in this town was held in the house of Peter Vandervoort, in August, 1846, when a sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Dickinson. The first birth was in the family of Adam Holiday, in 1847. The first marriage, a Mr. Baldwin to Miss Margaret Bell, in 1848.
At the first election of town officers, in April, 1848, Peter Vandervoort was elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and Samuel M. Rand, Clerk.
This town was a part of Taycheedah until 1851, when it was detached and organized a separate town. The southeast part of the town is heavily timbered with the various kinds of hardwood forest trees; the northwest embraces several hundred acres of Fond du Lac prairie. The ledge, or ridge, of limestone enters this town from Taycheedah on the north, passes in a southern direction through the entire width of the town, to Eden on the south.
The first settlement in the town was made in 1838, but it could hardly be said to have been commenced until 1844, when Mr. Lyons, Mr. John Y. Westervelt, and a number more, commenced a settlement on the high lands about the ledge. In the Summer of 1847 there was a school established near Mr. Lyons, under the superintendency of Miss E. Maxwell, afterwards Mrs. B. Davis, of Fond du Lac. Religious meetings were held at the house of Colonel Conklin, in 1844, and for some time after, this being the most commodious of any house to be obtain.
Empire was set off from Taycheedah and separately organized in 1851. At the town election of that year, Mr. J. Y. Westervelt was elected to the office of Chairman of Supervisors, and Mr. A. J. Wilson, Town Clerk.
The Town of Eldorado lies in the northern part of Fond du Lac County. Its surface is undulating, covered with forest trees in the eastern part, and in the south and west portions with oak openings and hay marsh. The marsh is said to be rather of a superior quality for the production of wild hay.
The first settlement in this town was made in 1846, by Job Humphrey, Harvey Wheeler, M. S. Barnett. Theodore Sheldon, Philander Hall, Mr. Woolcott, and others. The settlement increased very fast after its first commencement, and in April of that year the first town election was held. M. S. Barnett was elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and James Cowhan was elected Town Clerk.
Fond du Lac River takes its rise in this town. The county is well watered with springs and small streams. Soucha Creek runs through the town, and furnishes several water privileges. The first school taught was in the north part of the town, by John F. Steele.
Calumet, or Pipe Village, as it was called by the Indians, lies twelve miles northeast from Fond du Lac. The first settlement was made in 1837, near what is now called Pipe Village, by Geo. White, Wm. Urmston, and a Mr. Norton. About the same time a company of Germans settled in the north part of the town, which then formed a part of Calumet County. In 1840, on application being made to the Legislature by George White, it was set off from Calumet and joined to Fond du Lac County. In 1842 it was organized into a town, and the first election held in April of that year. George White was elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and Charles Amidon was elected Clerk.
The town is watered by springs and brooks, some of which uniting form the Manitowac River. The ledge, or limestone ridge, passes through this town, entering at the north from Calumet County, running nearly parallel with the shore of Lake Winnebago till it passes into the Town of Taycheedah. This ridge, in its whole course, furnishes a rich supply of the best of building stone, varying in thickenss from two inches to two or three feet.
This stone produces lime of the best quality. From the bottom of the ridge there are streams of water flowing westwardly, and in great abundance.
The Town of Byron is situated six miles south of Fond du Lac. The face of the town presents a pleasing variety of prairie, oak openings, marsh and timber land, beautifully undulated with gentle ascents and declivities, with one bold elevation where the limestone ridge passes through the town. The southern part of Fond du Lac prairie stretches into Byron, upon which are several farms of the first quality. Mound Prairie, near the center of the town, is more elevated, lying above the ridge. The soil is generally fertile and easy of tillage; the more elevanted part of the town, being dry and very warm. The first settlement in Byron was made in 1839, John Case, Oscar Pier, Patrick Kelley and William Stewart, selected and commenced the improvement of a neighborhood a little east of the middle of the north line of the town. Their location embraced a desirable variety of rich prairie, warm and fertile oak openings, and a beautiful grove of forest timber, with a small brook of water flowing through it. Mr. John Parsons arriving direct from England, located on a lot about a mile farther west. James Balsom and Samuel Butler settled in this neighborhood in the Fall of 1842. The first birth which occurred in the town was that of Eliza, daughter of Mr. William Stewart, about the month of December, 1840. The first school taught in Byron was in the Summer of 1843, in Mr. Butler's corn barn, by Miss Mary Butler, afterwards Mrs. F. Talmadge. In the Summer of 1844 Mr. John Folts, with his wife and four children, removed from the State of New York to Mound Prairie, in Byron. He set up crotches, upon which he laid long poles, and covered it over with prairie grass having blankets at the sides, for his domicil, lived until he could build a log house. The early settlers in the town shared in all those privations and difficulties, so common in new countries. They raised grain in abundance but found it very difficult to get it ground. Rev. Mr. Vaughn once sent his son to mill, and told him to wait for grinding until he could get it, -- he was gone ten days. Byron was organized a separate town in 1846, William Stewart was elected Chairman of Supervisors, which office he held for five successive years.
This town was at first a part of the Town of Auburn in its organization, and was set off from that town and separately organized in 1849. The first settlement was made in the Summer of 1844, by Henry Barnett, Josiah Perry, Charles Crownhart, and several others, who settled in the easterly part of the town. On their arrival they found not a human habitation within many miles, excepting the little beginning commenced by Mr. Crouch, the year before. They soon threw up log shanties to protect their families from exposure to the storm, and commenced clearing land for crops the ensuing year. They had many hardships and privations to meet and overcome.
The principal timber is basswood, elm, maple, ash, hickory, oak butternut and other kinds. The soil is clay and loam, with a fine sand, producing good wheat, oats, peas and also excellent pasturage.
The first death that occurred in Ashford, was that of Mrs. Electa Prior, in September, 1844;
her daughter, Mrs. Watson, died so soon after, that they were both interred in the same grave. The first birth
was in the family of Mr. J. E. Helmer. First marriage was Mr. Eleazar Cisco to Miss Fanny Prior. The first school
was taught by Miss Calista Colvin, in the house of Mr. J. Perry, in the Summer of 1847. The first religious meeting
was held at the house of Mr. Henry Barnett, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Sears. At the first election of town officers,
in April, 1849, Daniel D. Wilcox was elected Chairman of the Supervisors, and Seth G. Picket, Town Clerk.
In the southeast corner of the County of Fond du Lac lies the Town of Auburn. The face of the town is smooth in appearance, though not level in surface; gently undulating, with ascents and declivities of various heights and depths. The principal timber is sugar maple, basswood, elm, black and white ash, red and white oak, hickory, and butternut. The soil is a deep, black, sandy loam, with a mixture of marl; and subsoil of reddish clay.
The first settlement in the town was made in 1843, by Mr. Ludlam Crouch and Mr. Baldwin. The next year there was a small settlement made in the neighborhood by Mr. C. Crowhart and others, but across the line of Ashford. In 1847 Mr. Rosswell Hill, Alanson Wheeler, Seward Wilcox, and Harvey Woodworth, located in the town.
In 1848 the Town of Auburn was organized, including the township now called Ashford. The first school taught in the town was in the Summer of 1848, in the house of Mr. Crouch, by Miss Maria Bristol. The first death that occurred was that of Mrs. Baldwin, in 1847. At this funeral the first religious services were performed in Auburn, by Rev. Harvey Sears.
At the first town election there were twenty votes polled. Ludlam Crouch was elected to the office
of Chairman of the Board Supervisors, and Hiram Hatch, Town Clerk.
The Town of Alto is situated in the southwest corner of Fond du Lac County. The town is bounded on the north by Metomen, east by Waupun, south by Trenton, in Dodge County, and west by Mackford, in Green Lake County. The surface of the town is gently undulating, and is diversified by prairie, oak openings, and meadow lands. A branch of the Rock River passes through the town. This stream, together with its numerous tributaries, gives the town a good supply of water.
Mr. Martin Grider is said to be the first settler in the town, he having located on section 34. He was soon followed by Messrs. F. F. Davis, F. D. Bowman, Mr. Talcott, Silas Miller, and others, who also located in the south part of the town.
The first birth was a daughter of Mr. Booth, in 1844. The first religious meeting was held at the house of Mr. Davis, in 1844; the services were conducted by Rev. Mr. Miller, a clergyman of the Methodist faith. The first death occurred December 7, 1845, and was that of Cornelia C., daughter of Mr. Davis. She was about seventeen years of age. The first school was taught by Miss Angeline Booth, at the house of Mr. Davis, in the Summer of 1846.
Alto was set off from Waupun, and a separate town organized, in the year 1847. At the first town election, which occurred in April, 1847, Milton Talcott was elected Chairman, and G. W. Sexsmith, Clerk.
The soil of Alto is of the richest quality, producing all the agricultural products of the country in abundance. The Northern Division of the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad passes through the northeast part of the town. The Villages of Brandon and Waupun furnish a convenient and ready market for the surplus products of the town. In the central and eastern part of the town there is a settlement of Hollanders. Many of them are old and respected citizens, and are closely identified with the early history of the town. They have a church of their own, and are of the Presbyterian faith. They also have a school under the auspices of the church.
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